Four Green Fields – A Tribute to Tommy Makem

God Bless You Tommy Makem

I recorded Four Green Fields in 1989 at Marist College when our group The Frobisher Bay Volunteers was documenting our repetoire of Irish Songs. 

In my youtube account, user bobjohnson1945 you’ll find 40 great songs.

I’m still singing Irish but not as much.  This week at the jam at my home I hope to get a few sung.

It was a great disappointment to lose all the Clancey’s and Tommy Makem this last few years.  Makem was so smooth and yet had an intensity and emotional connection that was magnetic.  His song Four Green Fields will be around a long time.

It is good to have peace in Ireland.  Cathy and I visited in 1987 or 88 and we found ourselves in a couple of situations where guns were drawn.  One took place when we entered the North and the checkpoint police pointed loaded AK 47’s – not sure they were AK’s but they were the biggest things I’d ever seen – at both of us.  We had a station wagon and innocently and naively covered our luggage in the rear, not a good idea when bombs were being driven to the North by car.

In Belleek we stayed with a friend, Tommy Burns in his Inn, The Hotel Carlton,(he gave us a fishing cottage for our stay) and walked in Belleek in the evening.  We bumped into a patrol of six or so soldiers, three on each side of the street, all pointing rifles at the rooftops and alleys defending against snipers.  It was not a good way to live.

In  Enniskillen   we could not park on the street; it was illegal to leave your car unattended.  A few days after we left this beautiful town, a car bomb exploded and killed 11 people.

I cannot imagine what it was like to live with this constant threat.   It is good to have peace.

We made friends with Leo Keohane in Shannon and I’d be much obliged if someone could contact him and ask him to send me mail:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all.


Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 4:02 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. I came a cross you rendition of “Four Green Fields” and tribute to Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. It was done with great passion and was very powerful. I believe it to be the true song of Ireland. I played played in a number of Irish folk bands in the 1970’s, 80’s and till about 1994. I made a mistake going into engineering and not pursuing my true passion, music and entertaining. I played acoustic guitar and 5 string banjo. Groups were Burke & Kelley (Paul Kelley Bass and B Burke on acoustic and banjo), Irish Volunteers (Seamus Concannon Accordion, Eamon Connolly Banjo, Paul Kelley Bass and myself on the flat top and finally with County Lyne (Paul Burke Banjo, Paul Kelley Bass and I). All in the New England area. I’m writing because of tribute to Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. We played all their music and it was loved in the Pubs. They single;ed handedly with the Irish Rovers brought Irish music and history to America (US and Canada). I recall an interview with T. Makem and L. Clancy how immigrated Irish would ask them why there is no music like their’s in Ireland. As it turned out Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers not only brought Irish music to America but as time went on back to Ireland. Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers brought joy and happiness to many especially myself. “Irish music tells of happy wars and sad love songs”, Tommy Makem. Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers inspired such groups as the Wolftones, Dubliners, Barleycorn and all the groups I played with. I also read the the history of you bands namesake Frobisher Bay. A beautiful place to the North. I like your rendition of Roddy McCorrey. This email is a tribute to the Frobisher Bay Volunteers and your contribution to furthering Irish culture.

    Bill Burke
    72 Sterling Street
    West Boylston, MA 01583

    • Thank you Bill. The Frobisher Bay Volunteers performed in the Hudson Valley of New York. A lot of contests too, at colleges, where various groups would perform and judges would pick a winner. We never lost. Jack Burke, our banjoist and guitarist was amazing at placing voices for harmonies. At times we did five parts. if you go to my youtube channel, bobjohnson1945, you can find some Frobi (our nick name) tunes recorded 20 years later at Marist College when we reunited for a weekend. Will You Go Lassie Go, is one great song and we did it well. It’s on the tube. I’m just realizing you probably did go channel. Any way. Thanks. I love and still play the Clancy’s. In 1986 or thereabouts, I had the experience of a life time in Kilarney. I stopped in a pub, named Tad’s or close to this, and happened upon an open mike. After doing a couple of tunes the owner invited me back to play and I did a one man show for three or four sets. Folks were actually dancing to the music. I still get the adrenalin rush from that event. My work got in the way too. I wanted to perform but could not break away. I have a CD of the Marist Reunion records and will send it along.

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